June 18, 2002 — Executives of West Virginia-based CENfuel FPU LTD. recently announced the US commercial availability of a proprietary process for ultra-cleaning coal prior to combustion.
The rise and volatility of natural gas prices, combined with increasing energy demands and global unrest, has US policy makers and generation companies seeking alternative power plant fuels. With the CENfuel™ process, the US’ largest fossil fuel energy source can now be harnessed without the environmental and operational drawbacks of recently’s coal.
According to Chris Rowlands, CENfuel’s president: “After 25 years of R & D, testing and pilot-scale plants worldwide, we are launching into the US market with a process that responds with equal strength to hard-nosed business demands and environmental concerns. CENfuel offers a third generation fuel source that taps the nation’s greatest energy resource, coal, converting if from a source of concern to an energy-efficient, environmentally smart, cost effective answer.”
The process, proven in laboratory and pilot plant testing of more than 100,000 tons in Europe, Asia and the US, is the only method for cleaning coal pre-combustion. The process removes the particulates and pollutants that cause environmental problems and energy-efficiency losses in current generation coal-fired power stations and manufacturing plants.
The resulting ultra-clean coal-derived fuel is a cost-effective substitute for natural gas, fuel oil and raw coal in power plant applications. In addition to preventative and remediative environmental advantages, CENfuel increases coal’s versatility for energy and commercial applications; provides significant cost savings in fuel procurement, power-plant construction and ongoing usage; and supports many coal-related industries through by-product recovery.
Since 1981, CENfuel has been tested successfully at power generators abroad including Japan’s Hitachi Zosen, and Germany’s Brown Boveri. The company is expecting high-level acceptance of its technology in the US in the coming months. On June 24, CENfuel will announce details of its US commercialization program, and outline its patented “coal refining” process at a launch Open House Event to be held 10:30 am June 24th at the CENfuel Technical Facility near Holden, WV.
Commented Bob Bellemare, VP of Utility Services at prestigious industry consultancy Scientech, “Congress and the president recognize that in order to tap into coal, our nation’s top fuel resource, we must create new technologies characterized by enhanced operational, economic and environmental performance. We believe that the CENfuel™ product is part of the solution for providing low-cost, efficient, and clean energy.”
The CENfuel (also known as the Lloyd-Turner) process uses a patented chemical cleaning process to separate coal’s carbon from the ash minerals (such as heavy metals, sulfur, silica, and alumina) present in raw coal prior to combustion. The process includes complete removal of any remaining reagent, so there is no chemical waste stream. The result is an ultra-clean fuel (CENfuel) with an emissions profile comparable to natural gas.
“Pre-combustion coal refining raises ‘responsible energy’ to an entirely new level – by capturing pollutants before they escape the smokestack and enter the air we breathe,” said Max Turner, co-inventor the CENfuel process. Raw coal is one of the most impure of fuels, containing almost every element on the periodic table. Its impurities range from trace quantities of uranium and thorium, to larger quantities of sulfur, aluminum, silica, and iron.
Products of coal combustion include the oxides of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, and other carcinogenic and mutagenic substances. The CENfuel process greatly reduces or eliminates the emissions of devastating toxins such as carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur (SOx), fluorine (F) and nitrogen (NOx). CENfuel also ‘future-proofs’ environmental compliance by removing pollutants that are not yet regulated, such as mercury, nickel and vanadium.
The CENfuel process can also play a pivotal role in environmental remediation. By removing pollutants prior to combustion and creating recoverable, marketable byproducts, the CENfuel process helps companies deal with ash before it accumulates. Moreover, the CENfuel Process can transform existing coal slurry ponds from biohazards that threaten downstream communities and ecosystems into viable sources for energy or materials manufacturing.
Much more plentiful and generally more available than gas, coal hasn’t experienced the price volatility that natural gas experienced in the last few years. There are potentially centuries of reserves in the U.S. alone. With natural gas approaching the $3MM/BTU level, CENfuel is clearly poised to compete as a viable alternative. Moreover, as a coal derivative, CENfuel can be made from virtually any grade of coal or coal waste. For most users around the country, CENfuel can be made available without the infrastructure and capacity limitations facing the natural-gas transmission system.
The Lloyd-Turner process also offers significant operational economics in a wide range of plant sizes. First, its use of low temperature and low pressure greatly reduces the technical risk of scale-up operations, allowing for the use of relatively inexpensive plant materials such as polyethylene. All of the identified equipment items proposed for a CENfuel plant incorporate known equipment technology, and can be modified as necessary using generally accepted engineering procedures. Moreover, since many of the elements present in raw coal are removed pre-combustion, ‘wear and tear’ on power generation equipment such as turbines, is greatly minimized, thus contributing to lower plant maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) costs.
The CENfuel process converts coal ash into useable, highly valuable products including high-grade silica and alumina. Many industries stand to gain, including glass making, ceramics and the aluminum industry. The steel industry may also benefit as CENfuel has properties similar to foundry coke and can be produced without the heavy pollution generated by coke ovens. Recovered by-products can also be used in the manufacture of value-added carbon products like activated carbon, industrial carbons, and high-purity graphite.
The CENfuel process marries coal to low-cost combined cycle power generation. The removal of ash from coal makes the resulting fuel more versatile and valuable. Fuel can be burned in boilers without ash handling equipment, precipitates or filters. In an existing pulverized coal (PC) boiler, CENfuel can be combined with coal to make it more environmentally compliant by reducing overall sulphur levels.